Gallucci On The Truth about Sports Drinks
SoccerToday announced John Gallucci, Jr., MLS Medical Coordinator is the popular soccer news site’s newest columnist and will be writing a regular column on Injury Prevention and Treatment.
A dynamic expert in injury prevention, rehabilitation, sports medicine and athletic conditioning, Gallucci is the Medical Coordinator for Major League Soccer (MLS), overseeing the medical care of 600 professional soccer players. Gallucci is the former Head Trainer of the New York Red Bulls MLS team and is a Sports Medicine consultant for professional athletes in the NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, and USA Wrestling. Gallucci, Jr. is also President, JAG Physical Therapy & JAG Pediatric Therapy.
Soccer Players Alert: The Truth about Sports Drinks
Youth Soccer Nutrition News: Since the invention of Gatorade in the 1960’s, the sports drink industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry that now not only offers sports drinks but has grown into sport bars, chews, and powders.
With promises of fueling and refueling, hydrating and rehydrating, thirst quenching and powering through the fatigue, it is no wonder that these products can be found at most practices, games, and tournaments of all sport levels and are endorsed by some of the best professional athletes.
With all that being said, they must be good for us…right?
Soccer Players: To Drink or Not to Drink
Sports drinks, at first introduction, were made up of simple ingredients such as water, salt, sugar and lemon flavoring and were intended for use by athletes participating in an intense cardiovascular exercise that resulted in profuse sweating.
Today, although the core ingredients of carbohydrates and electrolytes can still be found and the purpose remains the same, we must be cognizant of the other additives that can be found in these products such as artificial sweeteners, dyes, and flavoring. We must be able to look past the bright colors and enticing packaging and look at the ingredients.
Leading brands of these products have been found to contain more sugar, sodium, caffeine- which actually dehydrates the body- and artificial sweeteners than that of a can of soda.
For some perspective:
- One 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar.
- One 12-ounce bottle of lemon-lime Gatorade contains 21 grams of sugar
but the bottle it comes in contains 2.5 servings and therefore 52.5 grams of sugar is being consumed in drinking the whole bottle.
This is similar to ingesting 10 teaspoons of sugar!
You wouldn’t want your child to drink soda on the field, so why would you let him or her drink a sports drink with an even higher amount of sugar?
Even Ironman tri-athletes who race for 10 consecutive hours doesn’t require that amount of sugar so your child certainly doesn’t need it to make it through a 90-minute practice or game.
Soccer Players: Trust Your Thirst
If you are thirsty, drink! Water is typically my first suggestion when it comes to pre-hydrating, hydrating or re-hydrating.
Every athlete needs a hydration base that comes from drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day and during activity, the athlete should drink six ounces of fluid (preferably water) every 15 minutes.
Sports drinks were intended for intense cardiovascular training sessions that exceed 60 minutes in length and produce profuse sweating.
If you need to liven up the taste of your water or are planning an intense training session, I recommend doing a 50/50 split of water and sports drink to cut down on the sugar intake but to still benefit from the carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluid replenishment.
Measuring up your activity to this standard can help you decide if a sports drink is necessary or not!
If you decide that water simply isn’t enough, be sure to check the label and rule out the products with artificial sweeteners, dyes and flavorings and look for the products that have a short list of ingredients that you are familiar with.
As a reference point, these beverages should have about 50 calories, 14 grams of carbohydrates, and about 110 milligrams of sodium per 8-ounce serving.